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The dangers of unions and the halt of the game industry


DD

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Let me start on why I think unions are dangerous. The United States was founded on the belief of freedom, including a free market. Because if you think anything else you're a commie or a terrorist. Anyways.. what unions usually do is force private companies, by law through government involvment, pay workers a standardized value. Since the process which is involved in setting this standard is extremely slow and hard to set specially on a national level this almost always means workers are forced to be overpaid or allow companies to have their employees underpaid.

It forces companies to consider moving to other countries with lighter laws, sadly, like China. HAHA!

Recently the VAG group, Voice Actors Guild, kind of like FAG, has started a lobby demending less hours, more pay, more breaks, royalties, for very little work within the game industry. Actually I think last I heard it was successful. This means guys like me who took years to learn skills, who will work 2-5 years on average per project is likely to get equal or less royalties from a game versus a employee of VAG. A VAG member who would probably work between 6-24 hours total hours spaced apart on 6 hour days (6 hour days forced by the guild), on the same project, for talking into a mic.

I'm mean... are you serious?

Anyways, the worst part about this subject is that is has started discussions about a union for developers. The only outcome I see of a union of developers is a halt of progression in a booming industry. First, if successful, it would force smaller companies to pay higher wages. It could also result in the opposite, allowing companies like EA use the excuse of the standard for underpaid employees. Large publishers/developers would start considering moving to other countries if the wages were forced much too high, as many have already started. It would mean controlled work hours, so small companies who may volunteer to work extra hours in order to finish a game on a certain time to make more money is not allowed to do so. It would mean that new comers who would like to one day start their own small private studios would be near impossible because the ridiculously high forced goverment costs. Much like how radio stations are now impossible to start in the United States, thanks Clearwater or whatever they're called.

Anyways, remember kids, Unions are bad. If this developers union ever happens remember my words.

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Not ALL unions are bad. When I was a schoolbus driver, I got paid shitloads. Your pay was based on how much you put in (hour and work wise) and how available you were. Needless to say, I left there making around 19.50/hr.

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the voice actors strike (SAG's anyway) was mostly unsuccessful. They got a pay hike from 200 an hour to 250 an hourl. That's all they really wanted, they just asked too much (ah the rules of haggling.) Basically they asked for a small percentage on the back end because they think their names draw people into the game (This isn't as insane as you may think in some cases. Think about how pissed it makes you when its a wanna be doing the voice of luke skywalker or something like that.) The SAG (dorian you mook) is a smaller union than the whole and is actually not very big in the game indusrty. There's actually two larger ones that mostly do voice work for Radio and TV. The whole of the game industry uses these fellows. Their rate is 150 an hour. They do not care about backend, they will never see backend. SAG has really only been involved recently and almost entirely for press releases.

Imagine it this way.

Giovanni Rabisi was in a press release for Call of Duty saying they were a huge Hollywood game yadda yadda... he saw no back end on that game. He probably made 50,000 or so for his day of work. See what happened there? He made above scale. This is super common. If you want a hollywood voice, you pay for a hollywood voice. They are not the ones complaining. It's the guys below them that no one knows complaining to piggy back off the bigger guys in some thinly veiled effort to use fame to create a buck.

The entire situation disenigrated.

As for the industry itself unionising. This is probably 5-10 years off. It's sorta goes without saying though. It just takes a while to set up. No surprise it will start at EA, and it will fail there. Round two will be the successful one. It won't affect you Dorian. Small independent developers can stay just that if their workers don't join the union. The same way independent film is non union for the most part (although that's starting to change.) Unions will be back at all the publishers for a long time before they are at the developers. Imagine how many people at EA don't actually create a game or touch content. The number is staggering. These people need job security because they are easily replaced. It's no suprise a union will happen.

Anyway, I'm not scared about any of this. I deal directly with voice actors all the time. They're a good bunch and don't complain about their pay.

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feck....zilla beat me to the punch.

my recent dealings with voice actors has been to pay a negotiated wage above scale. Finaly $ amount came down to what "known" actors were willing to work for, simple as that. As for residuals, none of them even dared to demand that.

Voice acting in games is, at least right now, not nearly as important to the overall quality of a game as voice acting is for an animated movie, and not even in the same universe as is for regular acting in a live action movie.

Interesting points about unions in general is that today, the fact that a particular field is unionized is purely inheritted. In the past the field unionized and it remains so due to inertia. Doesn't mean it's a good thing. Times and economic realities change...go through cycles and such. Sometimes a union may be good if an employer is really abusing it's employees. Down the road, that union may become corrupt and stagnant and not reflective of the true market value of employment of that field.

So there will probably be efforts to unionize in the gaming industry, but then why not investment bankers, tax accountants....meh....

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I think that voice actors are a pickle, some are underrated and some are overrated like heroine, like game voice actors, take Japanese games/anime for instance, people don't pay attettion to them that much, but that is what makes them so good, they make the characters so natural that you don't even think that the character is voice acted by someone, you just think that the character actually sounds like that.

And on the other end, there are some really really crappy voice actors who just make the whole game/cartoon so crappy that it hurts your ass when you play/watch it.

But then again, the good voice actors are overrated to no end, and in this I'm using The Simpsons voice actors as an example, now just to be clear, I love Simpsons like mad, there is no episode I have not seen and game I have not played or comics I have not read, but $125,000 per episode is completely insane, someone should take those asswipes down a peg.

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As for the industry itself unionising. This is probably 5-10 years off. It's sorta goes without saying though. It just takes a while to set up.

The fact that you think it is just 5-10 years off is a problem. It should never even be a question of happening or not happening, it just shouldn't.

It won't affect you Dorian. Small independent developers can stay just that if their workers don't join the union. The same way independent film is non union for the most part (although that's starting to change.) Unions will be back at all the publishers for a long time before they are at the developers.

You're correct in that a union of publisher workers would not affect me. However a union of developers more than likely would. Let me explain how unions work in the US government and business. Most unions start of largely unaffecting a market, the only people who gain and lose benefits due to a union are the members. In most cases unions lobby in politics to get what they want, not by volunteered members, but by law, by force, by gun. By pressuring politicians with large parties they manage to get laws written which force people to obey their terms. An example of this today is the radio industry. Airport worker and airline unions, an example market where unions are forced and constantly airliners are struggling to stay in business borrowing money from the government.

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That's just blind to suggest that any major changes - especially a unionization of our industry - wouldn't effect the workers within it, even if they're in small independent developers. I think we'll be especially effected as unionized firms will make lower bids, promise quicker production dates at lower pay. I think it'll flood the market and divide the industry in a harmful manner. Posty no like, bad medicine.

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